Derry farmers market takes hit from town council
DERRY — As the town budget discussions have progressed over the past month, the $20,800 budgeted for the downtown farmers market has been a major sticking point for the Town Council.
Earlier this month, Councilor Mark Osborne made an unsuccessful motion to cut the budget for the farmers market position from $20,800 to $5,000.
As the council took up adoption of the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget Tuesday night, Osborne once again made a motion to cut the position to $5,000. This time, the motion passed.
According to Town Administrator John Anderson, the cut in the position funding will mean the end of the farmers market.
Osborne had stated that he did not want to fund a farmers market that was operating at a $9,000 deficit. He also stated he did not believe that the cut to $5,000 would necessarily end the market.
Anderson said the revenues from the market, anticipated at $11,700, would also have to be cut from the budget.
“As it sits today, the market it done,” said councilor Neil Wetherbee. “Mr. Anderson has told us the effect of this cut and you can either believe him or not believe him.”
Wetherbee also said there are a number of vendors who have paid for spaces at the market through the end of the summer, and that those vendors will now have to have their money refunded.
The motion passed, 4-3, with Osborne, Tom Cardon, Al Dimmock and Michael Fairbanks voting for it, and Wetherbee, Brad Benson and Phyllis Katsakiores voting against.
As the budget discussion began on Tuesday night, Anderson and town finance director Frank Childs presented revisions to the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget that would have kept the municipal portion of the town property tax rate at $10.39, the same as last year’s rate.
“We proposed for you tonight a plan to bring the budget to zero,” said Anderson. “I don’t know why you are now going after the farmers market. This is outrageous.”
Before Osborne’s motion, Anderson stated that the town would reduce the farmers market director funding over the next year so that it would be revenue neutral by fiscal year 2016.